Why Travel Is About to Get Much Cheaper

Travelers who experienced serious sticker shock this year can finally expect some relief this fall.

San Diego beach

San Diego is among the U.S. destinations seeing the biggest airfare drops this fall.

Photo by Shutterstock

Finding a good airfare deal in the first half of 2022 was no simple task. Airfares for the first quarter of 2022 were up 17 percent year over year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. They started cooling off in June and July and, thankfully, airline ticket price predictions for the fall indicate travel is about to be even more affordable.

Travel booking app Hopper reports that average round-trip domestic airfares for September and October are down 37 percent to $238—or $142 below average summer round-trip domestic flights and 3 percent below 2019 prices. Round-trip international airfares for September and October have dropped as well, to an average of $754, down 19 percent (or $179) from summer prices.

“Demand for flights and hotel stays slows each August as Americans head back to school and work after a summer of vacations. As demand slows, airlines and hotels drop prices in an effort to drive bookings and reservations during this slower period. This low price period between peak summer months and expensive holiday travel season is called the fall shoulder season, and offers budget conscious travelers incredible deals,” Hopper explained in its Fall Shoulder Season Travel Guide.

While the pandemic completely threw off traditional booking and pricing trends, such as peak summer and holiday airfares versus lower fares during slower “shoulder” periods (in the late winter, spring, and early fall), the new data from Hopper suggests that more traditional booking patterns—and pricing—may be returning.

The drop in prices will likely come as welcome relief for travelers who have been grappling with the effects of inflation on their day-to-day consumer spending. It didn’t help that air travel has also been less than ideal—flying in the first half of 2022 was not only pricey but also marred with cancellations, delays, hours-long airport lines, and mountains of lost luggage.

Thankfully, in addition to prices finally starting to ease, airline performance has been improving as well. In July, flight cancellations were down to just 1.6 percent of total scheduled flights, compared to 2.7 percent of flights canceled in June, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.

Those looking for a good domestic deal this fall may want to head West. According to Hopper, these U.S. destinations are experiencing the biggest price drops:

  • San Diego: average round-trip airfares of $252, down $230 from summer averages
  • Portland, Oregon: average round-trip airfares of $314, down $218 from summer averages
  • Seattle: average round-trip airfares of $301, down $191 from summer averages
  • Los Angeles: average round-trip airfares of $246, down $189 from summer averages

As for international travel, some appealing European cities and several island destinations are seeing the biggest dips, according to Hopper.

  • Grenada, Spain: average round-trip airfares of $483, down $460 from summer averages
  • Zurich, Switzerland: average round-trip airfares of $691, down $275 from summer averages
  • Prague, Czech Republic: average round-trip airfares of $704, down $299 from summer averages
  • Male, Maldives: average round-trip airfares $1,183, down $431 from summer averages
  • Bali, Indonesia: average round-trip airfares of $1,389, down $465 from summer averages

Hotel prices are easing as well this fall, with the biggest declines in average nightly domestic rates reported by Hopper in Maui, Hawai‘i (average of $572 per night, down $365 from summer); Nashville, Tennessee ($207 per night, down $122 from summer); and Pensacola Beach, Florida ($303 per night, down $135 from summer).

Globally, destinations with the biggest declines in average nightly rates are Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (average of $545 per night, down $265 from summer); Mykonos, Greece ($228 per night, down $136 from summer); and Paradise Island, Bahamas ($330 per night, down $120 from summer).

To score the best airfare deal, Hopper recommends booking at least three weeks in advance for domestic travel and at least four weeks in advance for international trips. Departing on a Tuesday or Wednesday can save you more than $35 per flight and booking into hotels midweek will also result in savings.

Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.